Middle-earth: Shadow of War dropped its first story DLC, Blade of Galadriel, and I finished it after roughly four hours spent in Mordor (including some new views found throughout the regions).
There are ten story missions in total and a ton of optional duels to fight in order to gain legendary gear. You don’t actually need that gear, I have found, and no, Eltariel cannot reach a new rank, she can basically face any opponent, no problem.
Beware, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS both for the DLC and the main game.
(The main game actually includes a lot of spoilers and hints regarding certain events in the DLC, so, if you’ve finished the main game, there’s a good chance you already know how this DLC will play out and end).
Read at your own risk.
Eltariel vs. Talion
Eltariel is an elite elf assassin, a so-called Blade, who is infused with the power of Galadriel’s Light. But, and that is the good news, she retains most of the skills available to Talion, which are referred to as Legacy Skills in the Character-menu.
She will be able to gain a couple more skills which are basically light-based attacks and traps and pretty neat at that.
Now, remember that, when Eltariel first meets Talion and Celebrimbor in the main game, she is introduced as a Nazgul hunter? Given Talion’s fate in Act III, I was pretty sure there’d be a confrontation between the assassin and the Dark Ranger at some point in the main game, but that fight actually marks the beginning of the Blade of Galadriel-DLC.
Eltariel, tasked with destroying the newest of the Nazgul to retrieve Isildur’s ring, infiltrates Minas Morgul to confront the Dark Ranger. But, during the fight in the fortress’s hall, Talion proves that he is neither easy prey nor fallen to Sauron’s darkness. Yet, that is. He proposes an alliance and Eltariel agrees. (I guess that maybe she feels just a little bit guilty over having left him to die after Celebrimbor betrayed him.)
Don’t worry, though Eltariel will still get to fight a couple of Nazgul, since they are, actually, the end bosses of the DLC.
Allies are key
Instead of dominating an army to conquer forts, Eltariel has a different task: to keep the provinces safe in the Dark Ranger’s absence. So the elf sets out to recruit a number of allies. To do so, she has to help them in their own quest. Beware, though, if that ally is killed you will not get another chance at recruiting them.
There are an architect, a sniper, an Olog in command of a spider army, an assassin, two expert sappers and a poet, who will become Eltariel’s adoring bodyguard, no less, and will also come in handy during the boss fight against the Nazgul.
(Pro tip; Don’t stay on that tower with the sniper when fighting your opponents and don’t forget you can shadow-mount broken beasts).
At one point, you have the opportunity to recruit one more ally, but only at the cost of losing another. I decided to stick with the original ally and I think that was the right decision, since he proves very helpful throughout the game and even saved my life twice.
Making use of the Light of Galadriel
Eltariel’s light-skills allow her to infuse enemies with light and to blind them, or to shield and heal her allies. The Light replaces Talion’s Wraith powers and will be recharged during any encounter. Once you have unlocked Elven Rage, you will be able to blind your enemies, infuse them with light and make yourself invisible at the same time. Much like Celebrimbor’s Elven Rage-skill, it is the most awesome of all.
Having recruited her first three allies, Eltariel has to defend the fortress of Cirith Urgul. Once victory is achieved, Talion returns with some bad news and then more bad news appears in the shape of two rogue Nazgul, who make it clear they desire both Isildur’s ring from Talion’s undead body and the New Ring that Eltariel is still wearing but does not use.
Eltariel travels to Seregost, where she meets three more allies, one of which will be tasking her with two most entertaining assassination missions, dubbed “Poisoned Ground” (in Seregost) and “Like a Thief” (in Nurnen). Both missions, but especially the second one, offer fun optional objectives to achieve and some very clever surprises. You will also be facing two overlords during those missions and both duels are pretty awesome. Don’t let you ally die during those fights, though!
The boss fight(s)
In Gorgoroth, Eltariel and Talion at last team up with all of the allies recruited throughout the previous missions in order to conquer the Nazgul sisters’ fortress. (For whatever reason that conquest turned out to be a walk in the park and I confess I do not know if that was maybe thanks to the high rank my Talion’s achieved in the main game.)
Unfortunately, Eltariel has to face the sisters by herself. Apart from the usual teleporting power, the two of them will use chains to wrap around the elf and immobilize her, which is pretty annoying.
Plus, it takes some time wearing down their armor to break and banish them. But, contrary to previous confrontations, you are actually able to call upon your bodyguard. Having him fight by your side helps immensely, so do that.
Once Eltariel the Nazgul-hunter has banished both sisters, she realises that all is not well with Talion. Since he does not wish to die in Mordor – understandably – she takes him back to Minas Morgul, where she asks for Isildur’s ring and finds out that he has not forgiven her betrayal after all…
What goes around comes around indeed.
The lonely fight against the Nazgul-who-was-once-Talion, his Nazgul friends plus an army of undead orcs is pretty long and also pretty tough, but you will have plenty of room to retreat and heal yourself, when needed. Make sure you have unlocked all of Eltariel’s light-skills, though.
The DLC matches neither the main game’s timeline nor its ending, but while that is a little confusing, it does not really matter. I was not particularly thrilled by how the main game handled the ending, anyway.
Compared to its predecessor, Middle-earth: Shadow of War has improved immensely in terms of story and character development. That also shows in the Blade of Galadriel-DLC and I loved that. It is mainly thanks to Troy Baker’s performance as Talion, which made the ranger such a relatable character to begin with, that you can actually understand the inner conflict Eltariel (who does not really have any personality at all) faces.
She knows that Talion will fall, in the end, and when he does, she wants him to go easy. It is a very humane sentiment and so unlike both Celebrimbor and Galadriel, who apparently view emotion as impediment in this epic battle against darkness. Oh, well, so Celebrimbor couldn’t care less, I know. Which is why I am nor yet sure if what the ending hints at is actually a good idea.
But, we shall see, won’t we? Until that time comes, I am looking forward to the next story-DLC, that features a brand new setting and an old acquaintance of Talion’s, the charismatic dwarven hunter Torvin.
Keep on playing!
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